Byline: Shane Scott
CATALINA ISLAND — The first plane to cross the English Channel and what is considered to be the oldest flyable aircraft in the world, the Bleriot XI, will be making its way over the Catalina Channel Oct. 26-27, during the 2013 Scheyden Catalina Air Show.
Eric “Eclipse” Presten will fly the 660-pound, 27-foot-span grandfather monoplane, demonstrating its warped wing design and maximum flight speed of 47 mph. The aircraft, which has a mere 25 hp engine, was actually one of the fastest planes of its time and was used in the early 20th Century before World War I.
Fast-forward 100 years, and you’ll also see the most advanced aerobatic aircraft in the world: a 380 hp bright orange carbon fiber two-seat tandem sport aircraft known as the MX2. The aircraft will be flown by the man whose nickname is plastered all over its wingspan: “Super Dave” Mathieson.
In just one second, Mathieson, who has worked flying bush planes on floats since he was 15, can roll his plane about 500 degrees. And on the straightaway, he can pull about 16 Gs, maxing out at a top speed of 300 mph.
Planes aren’t the only things you can expect to see at the air show. It’s also probably the only place you’ll ever see a helicopter fly upside down.
A blond, mustachioed fellow, “Malibu” Chuck Aaron — the first and only civilian pilot ever to be licensed to perform helicopter aerobatics in the U.S. (and one of three in the world) — will be demonstrating everything that you shouldn’t do while flying a helicopter, including 360 spins, back flips, and a terrifying tumble known as the ‘chuchclivac.’
Should spectators have the itch to fly themselves, after watching the performances, they’ll have the option to test their skills on the M-4 Motion Theater Flight Simulator. Program choices include Survivor, Star War, P-51 Mustang, and F-16 Jet. Each experience provides an extreme flight simulation with two to five 360-degree barrel rolls.
During the air show, vintage and specialty aircraft will be on display at Catalina’s Airport-in-the-Sky, and the aerial demonstration will take place off the Avalon breakwater. Street booths with an aeronautical theme will be set up along Crescent Avenue.
Event organizers say the best places to watch the air show are from boats moored and anchored in the bay. However, on-land VIP viewing spots will be available, to be announced on the air show’s website.
For more information, visit catalinaairshow.com.